I’m right in the middle of researching Forrester’s Interactive Marketing Forecast — our big sizing report which forecasts spending in different interactive channels five years into the future.  In addition to leveraging a quantitative study of marketers (which some of you helped with — thanks!), I’m also conducting a series of interviews with media providers, vendors, agencies and interactive marketing experts to help me prioritize trends and build out an accurate market sizing. 

Last week as part of my research I spoke to Jim Nail, ex-Forrester analyst and current CMO of TNS Media Intelligence/Cymfony and Jeff Lanctot, VP of Media and Client Services for Avenue A/Razorfish.  Both independently mentioned a key theme defining the future of interactive marketing which I’ve been noodling on since my conversations with them.  I’m paraphrasing a bit, but the theme is that of immersive marketing — that is the idea of creating marketing programs that:

Create a cohesive and all-encompassing experience across any channel where the customer is.

Generally immersive marketing is planned to encounter the customer, rather than planned by "how many impressions in which format I should buy."  And immersive marketing is often more subtle, taking a concierge-type approach rather than the carnival-barker style to delivering value.

I really like this idea and believe that as consumers grow ever more fatigued of marketing communications immersive marketing will become more appreciated and more expected.  But I can’t help but wonder how a transformation to immersive marketing will actually come to pass.  Will marketers really give over to being subtle facilitators of positive customer experiences?  Is there still a role for marketing to be loud?

Maybe immersive marketing happens as a new approach that smart marketers take to relationship marketing which functions alongside — not as a replacement for — overt marketing tactics aimed at acquiring customers or announcing one’s brand?  And of course, hopefully as we all get better an analytics, even "loud" marketing activities become more intelligent and well-customized.

I’d love to know your take on immersive marketing and on any other transformations you feel affecting the future of interactive marketing.  I think we are at an inflection point in the market for sure and I’d love to get as many perspectives as possible to include in the sizing report.